Building BoringSSL

Build Prerequisites

The standalone CMake build is primarily intended for developers. If embedding BoringSSL into another project with a pre-existing build system, see

Unless otherwise noted, build tools must at most five years old, matching Abseil guidelines. If in doubt, use the most recent stable version of each tool.

  • CMake 3.0 or later is required.

  • A recent version of Perl is required. On Windows, Active State Perl has been reported to work, as has MSYS Perl. Strawberry Perl also works but it adds GCC to PATH, which can confuse some build tools when identifying the compiler (removing C:\Strawberry\c\bin from PATH should resolve any problems). If Perl is not found by CMake, it may be configured explicitly by setting PERL_EXECUTABLE.

  • Building with Ninja instead of Make is recommended, because it makes builds faster. On Windows, CMake's Visual Studio generator may also work, but it not tested regularly and requires recent versions of CMake for assembly support.

  • On Windows only, NASM is required. If not found by CMake, it may be configured explicitly by setting CMAKE_ASM_NASM_COMPILER.

  • C and C++ compilers with C++11 support are required. On Windows, MSVC 14 (Visual Studio 2015) or later with Platform SDK 8.1 or later are supported. Recent versions of GCC (4.8+) and Clang should work on non-Windows platforms, and maybe on Windows too.

  • The most recent stable version of Go is required. Note Go is exempt from the five year support window. If not found by CMake, the go executable may be configured explicitly by setting GO_EXECUTABLE.

  • On x86_64 Linux, the tests have an optional libunwind dependency to test the assembly more thoroughly.


Using Ninja (note the ‘N’ is capitalized in the cmake invocation):

mkdir build
cd build
cmake -GNinja ..

Using Make (does not work on Windows):

mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..

You usually don't need to run cmake again after changing CMakeLists.txt files because the build scripts will detect changes to them and rebuild themselves automatically.

Note that the default build flags in the top-level CMakeLists.txt are for debugging—optimisation isn't enabled. Pass -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release to cmake to configure a release build.

If you want to cross-compile then there is an example toolchain file for 32-bit Intel in util/. Wipe out the build directory, recreate it and run cmake like this:

cmake -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=../util/32-bit-toolchain.cmake -GNinja ..

If you want to build as a shared library, pass -DBUILD_SHARED_LIBS=1. On Windows, where functions need to be tagged with dllimport when coming from a shared library, define BORINGSSL_SHARED_LIBRARY in any code which #includes the BoringSSL headers.

In order to serve environments where code-size is important as well as those where performance is the overriding concern, OPENSSL_SMALL can be defined to remove some code that is especially large.

See CMake's documentation for other variables which may be used to configure the build.

Building for Android

It's possible to build BoringSSL with the Android NDK using CMake. Recent versions of the NDK include a CMake toolchain file which works with CMake 3.6.0 or later. This has been tested with version r16b of the NDK.

Unpack the Android NDK somewhere and export ANDROID_NDK to point to the directory. Then make a build directory as above and run CMake like this:

cmake -DANDROID_ABI=armeabi-v7a \
      -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=${ANDROID_NDK}/build/cmake/android.toolchain.cmake \
      -GNinja ..

Once you've run that, Ninja should produce Android-compatible binaries. You can replace armeabi-v7a in the above with arm64-v8a and use API level 21 or higher to build aarch64 binaries.

For other options, see the documentation in the toolchain file.

To debug the resulting binaries on an Android device with gdb, run the commands below. Replace ARCH with the architecture of the target device, e.g. arm or arm64.

adb push ${ANDROID_NDK}/prebuilt/android-ARCH/gdbserver/gdbserver \
adb forward tcp:5039 tcp:5039
adb shell /data/local/tmp/gdbserver :5039 /path/on/device/to/binary

Then run the following in a separate shell. Replace HOST with the OS and architecture of the host machine, e.g. linux-x86_64.

target remote :5039  # in gdb

Building for iOS

To build for iOS, pass -DCMAKE_OSX_SYSROOT=iphoneos and -DCMAKE_OSX_ARCHITECTURES=ARCH to CMake, where ARCH is the desired architecture, matching values used in the -arch flag in Apple's toolchain.

Passing multiple architectures for a multiple-architecture build is not supported.

Building with Prefixed Symbols

BoringSSL's build system has experimental support for adding a custom prefix to all symbols. This can be useful when linking multiple versions of BoringSSL in the same project to avoid symbol conflicts.

In order to build with prefixed symbols, the BORINGSSL_PREFIX CMake variable should specify the prefix to add to all symbols, and the BORINGSSL_PREFIX_SYMBOLS CMake variable should specify the path to a file which contains a list of symbols which should be prefixed (one per line; comments are supported with #). In other words, cmake .. -DBORINGSSL_PREFIX=MY_CUSTOM_PREFIX -DBORINGSSL_PREFIX_SYMBOLS=/path/to/symbols.txt will configure the build to add the prefix MY_CUSTOM_PREFIX to all of the symbols listed in /path/to/symbols.txt.

It is currently the caller's responsibility to create and maintain the list of symbols to be prefixed. Alternatively, util/read_symbols.go reads the list of exported symbols from a .a file, and can be used in a build script to generate the symbol list on the fly (by building without prefixing, using read_symbols.go to construct a symbol list, and then building again with prefixing).

This mechanism is under development and may change over time. Please contact the BoringSSL maintainers if making use of it.

Known Limitations on Windows

  • CMake can generate Visual Studio projects, but the generated project files don't have steps for assembling the assembly language source files, so they currently cannot be used to build BoringSSL.

Embedded ARM

ARM, unlike Intel, does not have an instruction that allows applications to discover the capabilities of the processor. Instead, the capability information has to be provided by the operating system somehow.

By default, on Linux-based systems, BoringSSL will try to use getauxval and /proc to discover the capabilities. But some environments don‘t support that sort of thing and, for them, it’s possible to configure the CPU capabilities at compile time.

On iOS or builds which define OPENSSL_STATIC_ARMCAP, features will be determined based on the __ARM_NEON__ and __ARM_FEATURE_CRYPTO preprocessor symbols reported by the compiler. These values are usually controlled by the -march flag. You can also define any of the following to enable the corresponding ARM feature.


Note that if a feature is enabled in this way, but not actually supported at run-time, BoringSSL will likely crash.

Binary Size

The implementations of some algorithms require a trade-off between binary size and performance. For instance, BoringSSL's fastest P-256 implementation uses a 148 KiB pre-computed table. To optimize instead for binary size, pass -DOPENSSL_SMALL=1 to CMake or define the OPENSSL_SMALL preprocessor symbol.

Running Tests

There are two sets of tests: the C/C++ tests and the blackbox tests. For former are built by Ninja and can be run from the top-level directory with go run util/all_tests.go. The latter have to be run separately by running go test from within ssl/test/runner.

Both sets of tests may also be run with ninja -C build run_tests, but CMake 3.2 or later is required to avoid Ninja's output buffering.